Scripture Reading: Mark 1:21-28
They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, throwing him into convulsions and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
I do not have a great understanding of what were dubbed demons in the first century or the people who display similar behavior today with symptoms now given a psychological tag. I did read M. Scott Pecks book People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil several years ago, which explored similar situations.
I remember well sitting on suicide watch all night in a general hospital with a young teen awaiting his transfer to a psychiatric facility. Although heavily sedated, he cycled through stages of agitation looking at me wildly declaring he was Jesus Christ and he was to save the world, eventually wearing himself out until he collapsed on the bed and fell into a deep sleep. He would later awake proclaiming he had committed blasphemy by declaring himself the Christ and he needed to die for his sin. I even remember thinking this is like the demons in some of Jesus’ stories. There is so much we do not know.
I no longer question that evil takes many forms, and I am not sure if some type of mental illness is one of them. I am sure that humans can get so caught up in layers of self-deceit colored by many descriptors such as envy, greed, lust, hunger for power, violence that they alone cannot escape the chains those manifestations have on them. Jesus Christ can and does return people to wholeness when we let him.
Prayer: Spirit of the Living God protect us from evil, lead us to the empowerment of your love that heals the sin-sick soul. Amen.